Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association Supports AG Neronha’s Proposals on New Civil Rights Legislation, Update of Use of Force Protocols

PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, representing all of the police chiefs in Rhode Island, announces its full support and endorsement of Attorney General Peter Neronha’s proposal to pass new legislation allowing the AG’s office to conduct civil rights pattern and practice investigations of all government and law enforcement agencies in Rhode Island and his efforts to revise and expand protocols in the review of use of deadly force and alleged excessive force by police officers in the state.

“After meeting with Attorney General Neronha on these issues earlier this week and hearing his thoughts on the matter, we unanimously support his push to broaden civil rights protections for all Rhode Islanders and to ensure that use of force by police departments in the state is something that continues to be looked at with the seriousness and scrutiny it deserves,” said RIPCA President and Lincoln Police Chief Brian Sullivan. “Our job as police officers is to protect those in our communities that we serve, and that includes those in our custody or who are being detained. That commitment was broken in Minneapolis by the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd and has been broken elsewhere in our country. Here in Rhode Island we hold ourselves to the highest standards of the law enforcement profession and we need to do everything we can to ensure that those standards are not only met, but are exceeded. This proposed legislation is another step toward achieving that goal, and we thank AG Neronha for his leadership on this vital matter.”

Attorney General Neronha announced on Monday, June 15, before the Senate Judiciary Committee a renewed effort to pass legislation before the Rhode Island General Assembly that would give the Attorney General enhanced authority to investigate and enforce individual instances of police misconduct as well as patterns or practices of misconduct, particularly as they relate to potential civil rights violations.

Today, Attorney General Neronha announced that in addition to his call for new legislation, that he is enacting an update and expansion of the protocol mandating the review of police use of deadly force, use of force resulting in serious bodily injury and excessive use of force.

Rhode Island law enforcement agencies had been required to report incidents of use of deadly force and custodial deaths to the Attorney General for review and investigation. 

The new protocol now requires that all Rhode Island law enforcement agencies immediately report incidents to the Attorney General regarding:

  • Use of Deadly Force
  • In Custody Deaths
  • Death During Apprehension
  • Use of Force Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury
  • Any Allegation of Excessive Force

The AG’s office will then lead a review of the incident and make charging decisions where appropriate. This is the first time the protocol has been amended since 2007.

“There has been a significant public demand for more accountability and transparency in police departments here in Rhode Island and across the country and that is something that we as police chiefs take very seriously,” said Chief Sidney Wordell (Ret.) Executive Director of RIPCA. “Having an added layer of oversight will help to ensure transparency and will help in the effort to continue to build trust with our residents and those that we are sworn to serve.”

About the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association

The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association (RIPCA) was established in 1950 and is comprised of more than one-hundred members; including active and retired police chiefs, and associate members – representing nearly 50 municipal, state and campus agencies that serve more than 1 million Rhode Islanders living in communities across the Ocean State.

The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association has been – and will continue to be – committed in its pursuit of excellence as we strive to work closer with citizens and community partners alike in an ongoing effort to form sustaining foundations for safe and secure communities; foundations formed to endure socioeconomic instability and variations in crime rates. Our active engagement on issues of public safety policy and legislation will help shape the future of law enforcement, and strengthen trust and respect of the policing profession.

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Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association Supports AG Neronha’s Proposals on New Civil Rights Legislation, Update of Use of Force Protocols